As the flagship trim of the 2012 Ford Explorer lineup, the Explorer Limited totes a passle of bling that fits its elevated status. Of course, this top-shelf crossover still boasts 3 rows of seating for up to 7 passengers, and cargo area remains a respectable 80.7 cubic feet, but such details only scratch the surface of what this princely people-hauler offers.
Start with standard 20-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, rear spoiler and heated power-adjustable mirrors outside, and then add leather upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats and power-adjustable pedals inside. Now, throw in cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, keyless entry and ignition, power windows and tri-zone climate control. Add to that a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, a universal remote garage door opener and memory for driver's settings, and you begin to appreciate this midsize crossover’s attributes. But that’s not all; this elegant ute also tosses in added simulated alloy and leather cabin accents, as well as Bluetooth technology with real-time traffic and a 390-watt Sony premium audio system that sports an MP3-capable single-CD player, 12 speakers, 5.1 Surround Sound, satellite radio, a USB port and a memory card slot.
Options, of course, are also on a higher plane and include a number of Rapid Spec packages that add the SYNC/MyFord Touch voice-activated and touchscreen audio, navigation, climate control and communications systems, as well as a power-folding third-row seat, upgraded leather upholstery and heated and cooled front seats. Remote engine start, Adaptive Cruise Control and, for those frustrated with finding a vacancy in the typical over-worked parking lot, Active Parking Assist, also come with various Rapid Spec bundles, while rear-seat DVD entertainment, second-row captain’s chairs and a dual-panel power sunroof are all available as standalone options.
Powering the 2012 Explorer Limited is a variable-valve-timed (VVT) 3.5-liter Flex Fuel (FFV) V6 engine that combines with the standard 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission for 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. These ponies are good to tow up to 5,000 pounds of trailer with the available Class III towing package added, and mileage in this front-wheel-drive (FWD) crossover is estimated at 17 mpg city/24 highway.
New for this year, Ford’s self-proclaimed leader in crossover-class fuel efficiency, the 2.4-liter EcoBoost turbocharged inline 4-cylinder powerplant, provides an optional engine choice for the Explorer Limited. Mated with the appropriately geared 6-speed shiftable automatic, the four-banger throws out 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and mileage estimates run a respectable 20/28. With the available towing package, look for a max trailering capacity of 2,000 pounds.
Safety-wise, the 2012 Limited boasts standard 4-wheel antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags with head protection chambers and 3-row head airbags. This high-end trim also boasts front fog/driving lights, turn-signal-integrated mirrors, a post-collision safety system and a remote antitheft alarm as standard equipment, with Ford’s BLIS blind-spot warning system and inflatable second-row seatbelts each optional.